Does nomos (Greek for law in Rom 2:14-15) mean the mosaic law or the law of Christ or natural or divine law or something else? I am specifically interested in how to interpret this alongside Matt 5:18 "not one iota or dot will pass from the law until everything is accomplished."
Romans 2:14 - 15
ESV - 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
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As Paul explained in Romans 10, Christ was the end of the Law by perfectly fulfilling its requirements on behalf of all humanity. Therefore, His perfect obedience could be imputed to everyone who accepts the salvation and forgiveness that He obtained for us by His atoning death and resurrection. The Law that Christ fulfilled was the Mosaic Law given to Israel, but, as Paul noted, the requirements of the Law are written on the heart of every human. Because Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Law on behalf of all humanity, we are no longer dependent on perfect obedience to the Law for our salvation -- although the moral portion of the Law (as distinct from its civil or ceremonial aspects, and as summarized by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40) still serves as a valid guide as to how Christians should live. As indicated in the question, Jesus spoke of not one iota or dot of the Law passing away until all was accomplished. This full accomplishment occurred when Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly, and then died on our behalf, by which act (as Paul noted in Colossians 2:14) He did away with the legal requirements of the Law as a means of being saved by nailing it to His cross.
Let me start with the Greek of this verse: τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστὸς εἰς δικαιοσύνην παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι. The Greek word translated in many versions as “end” is τέλος, telos, which conveys the ideal of goal or destination or purpose. It does not have to be translated as “end,” meaning “cessation” or “termination.” From a theological perspective, the popular view of Rom 10:4 has Paul teaching the end of the Law. However, as we can see from a few other translations, this is not the only view for which we can consider: Indeed, Messianic Jewish author David H. Stern translates this verse as, “For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts.” And, the Tree of Life Version, also a translation put together by a committee of Christians and Messianic Jews, reads, “For Messiah is the goal of the Torah as a means to righteousness for everyone who keeps on trusting.” Additionally, we have The Scriptures Version, a well-known Hebraic Roots translation, which reads, “For Messiah is the goal of the ‘Torah unto righteousness’ to everyone who believes.” However, it is not only Messianic or Hebrew Roots versions that challenge a reading that teaches “end.” Consider the NIV: “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Consider the International Standard Version: “For the Messiah is the culmination of the Law as far as righteousness is concerned for everyone who believes.” Consider God’s Word Translation: “Christ is the fulfillment of Moses' Teachings so that everyone who has faith may receive God's approval.” This sounds very much like Yeshua’s (Jesus’) own words in Matt 5:17 “I came to fulfill the Law and the prophets…” Conclusions: With so many different versions to choose from, which ones should help us to decide how to understand the Greek word telos? I am of the persuasion that our theology about the Law as Christians should flow primarily from the words of the Messiah himself: “I did not come to abolish the Law and the prophets…” Yes, Messiah fulfilled the Law and the prophets, but I personally do not believe that “fulfill” can possibly have the same meaning as “abolish,” “terminate,” “put an end to.” What is more, even if I am wrong, and the Law truly has come to an end, it cannot possibly be ALL of the Law that has ended. For indeed, the moral parts of the Law are still binding on believers, right? Murder is still wrong. Adultery is still wrong. Lying is still wrong. Theft is still wrong. Etc. Etc. Paul wrote Rom 10:4 as a knowledgeable Jewish Torah teacher. Paul was a student and follower of Yeshua and thus, Paul's understanding of Law must agree with his Teacher’s understanding of Law. Perhaps this is why Paul could confidently write earlier in Romans 3:31: “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the Law.”
In Matthew 5:17, 18 Jesus is referring to the enduring nature of His law, the Ten Commandments. Although the Law of Moses was done away with (no one is sacrificing animals and keeping feasts any longer), the holy law of God expressed in the Ten Commandments remain forever. God give us the Ten Commandments as guide for a happy life (Proverbs 29:18), to show us the difference between right and wrong, and to protect us from harm. Jesus tells that He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill, or show us how to keep it (Heb 4:15, 16; 2 Cor 5:21). Instead of doing away with the law, Jesus magnified it (Isa 42:21) as the perfect guide for right living. For example, Jesus pointed out that "thou shalt not kill" condemns anger "without a cause" (Mat 5:21, 22) and hatred (1 John 3:15), and that lust is adultery (Mat 5:27, 28). Are we then saved by keeping the law? Not at all! No one can be saved by keeping the law. Salvation comes only through grace, as a free gift from Jesus Christ, and we receive it by faith, not by works. The law serves only as a mirror to point out sin in our lives. Cleansing and forgiveness from that sin come only through Christ. Paul in Romans 3:20 and Ephesians 2:8, 9 is very clear about that. Then, if we attain righteousness by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice, why is it still necessary to keep the law? Because the law was never intended to provide salvation; its function is to define sin (Rom 7:7). Yet, the Cross doesn't negate the need to follow God's law any more than someone having been pardoned for speeding continue to speed. In Romans 3:31 Paul is clearly rejecting the suggestion that Christ has abolished the Ten Commandments, and that therefore, under grace, we don’t need to keep the law. Some calls it “legalism,” although Paul sees it differently. Grace and the law do not negate each other. Instead, they are interconnected. The law, because it can't save us, shows us why we need grace. Grace is not opposed to law but to death (Rom 6:12-14). A rebellious person who refuses to obey God's law, saying that is under grace, is mistaken (Romans 3:31; 6:14). In Revelation 12:17 Jesus tells that Satan hates those who keep His Commandments (Rev 14:12). And finally, if we love Him, we keep His commandments (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3).
Jesus fulfilled the Law because no one else could do it. Mathew 5:17. The Son of God came as a baby, lived a perfect life, than died for all our sins so we could be as perfect as Him in the eyes of His Father (God), who gave the Law to Moses but no human could keep. That is why Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life and the only way to Eternal Life. Jesus left Heaven, became a man, died, but arose the third day (Jesus is God, Jesus is the Resurrection, Jesus was the first to get the Resurrected body that all believers will get some day). Many people besides His Disiples testified to the fact of His death since He was with them for 40 days before leaving in a cloud from the Mount of Olives. Two Angels dressed in white told the Diciples that He would come back the way He left. Jesus Christ told the Diciples that He would send the Holy Spirit to teach them all things and to live in them as they (All that believe in Him) would carry and teach the "Good News (Gospel)" to all the world. If you do not know who Jesus Christ is, you can know Him by studying the Bible and repent of your sins and follow Him. Let the Holy Spirit teach you because if you reject the Holy Spirit (the only Unpardonable Sin), you cannot enter the Kingdom of God and have Eternal Life living with Almighty God.
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